For many years, I’ve been using the excellent Startup Control Panel utility by Michael Lin, which is great for managing the myriad of applications which start up with windows, whether it be through the startup folder, system registry, etc. I’ve recommended this to countless people, and it’s been an essential tool when manually cleaning machines ridden with spyware and viruses.
Somewhat less user friendly but far more powerful is Sysinternals Autoruns. This not only allows you to view all applications loading on Startup, it also displays all windows services, Internet Explorer addins, scheduled tasks, and other useful information.
This is definitely one of those must-have utilities. It’s worth installing it, and familiarising yourself with the applications that load up with Windows, removing any that aren’t necessary, and using this application as part of your housecleaning activities to ensure that your system startup stays clean and tidy.
There’s always going to be applications which try and hijack your system. My recent frustration was with Apple’s Quicktime, which refused to go away, despite being deleted from my system startup time and time again. Finally, renaming qttask.exe to qttask.old fixed my problem. There’s lots more information on windows annoyances at annoyances.org.